Mladenovic stops Sharapova in Stuttgart

Maria Sharapova's impressive comeback came to a grinding halt on Saturday as she went down in three sets to France's Kristina Mladenovic in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix semi-finals.

Making her return from a 15-month doping suspension this week, Sharapova stormed through her first three matches without dropping a set, but on this occasion she could not get past Mladenovic – despite taking the first set.

The Russian went down 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in Stuttgart after a fierce two-hour-and-40-minute battle.

The early signs had looked very good for Sharapova, who immediately started applying pressure with her returns to bring up a number of break points. Mladenovic also appeared to struggle with Sharapova's powerful serve, and it wasn't long before she found herself a set down after giving up the break in the fourth game.

Sharapova broke early in the second set for a 2-0 lead and looked well on her way to victory, but the momentum was about to shift.

Mladenovic found a way past Sharapova's serve to claim a break of her own, and then took advantage of a dip in form from her opponent, who started making a few double faults and offering up too many short balls. Another break soon followed, allowing the Frenchwoman to level the scores at a set apiece.

It all came down to the decider, and Mladenovic did not let up in the third set. She broke first for a 4-2 lead, and though Sharapova would delay the result when she broke back at 3-5, Mladenovic took the match at the second time of asking, breaking Sharapova a final time in the very next game to complete the victory.

Sharapova'a defeat means she is left needing another wildcard entry in order to play in the French Open. Whether she will receive it or not following widespread criticism from her fellow WTA players of the wildcard she received in Stuttgart, remains to be seen.

As for Mladenovic, she moves on to Sunday's final, where she will take on local favourite Laura Siegemund.

The 29-year-old thrilled the Stuttgart crowds with an upset 6-4, 7-5 victory over fourth seed Simona Halep.

The topsy-turvy match featured no less than 14 breaks of serve, with Siegemund ultimately claiming eight to Halep's six to clinch victory.

Saturday's semi-final results

Laura Siegemund (Germany) beat Simona Halep (Romania) 6-4 7-5        
Kristina Mladenovic (France) beat Maria Sharapova (Russia) 3-6 7-5 6-4